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Qualitative Social Work ; 22(3):448-464, 2023.
Article in English | CINAHL | ID: covidwho-2314540


In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe. The viral outbreak was followed by rapid changes in people's everyday and working lives. Because of the wide-scale societal restrictions that took place to prevent the pandemic, social work was forced to take a digital leap. In this article, we examine Finnish social workers' experiences of extending the use of digitally mediated social work (DMSW) in working with clients during the first wave of the pandemic, the spring of 2020. The data consist of 33 social workers' personal diaries, which are analysed using a qualitative theory-based content analysis. Henri Lefebvre's theory of spatial triad will be utilised in theorising how social workers represent DMSW through three dimensions of space, that is, how they perceive, conceive and live digital spaces when encountering their clients and how physical, mental and social spaces are embodied in the representations. The results suggest that the three dimensions of space 1) basis of, 2) conceived and 3) lived DMSW intertwine closely together. The results reveal how the physical space, including IT infrastructure, its functionality and applicability, along with the organisational contexts, form a bedrock for the social workers' DMSW practice and had a decisive impact on their experiences. Second, the conceived space consists of workers' cognitive and emotional elements, such as competencies, preconceptions and attitudes towards ICT. Finally, the third dimension of spatiality concludes with the social and relational aspects of the user experiences and encounters between clients and social workers.

British Journal of Social Work ; 53(1):405-424, 2023.
Article in English | CINAHL | ID: covidwho-2241886


Covid-19 brought about drastic changes in day-to-day life and working practices, and had a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of the general population. Certain professional groups have also been particularly affected. This study sought to explore how levels of psychological distress and perceptions of workplace support amongst social work staff changed during the pandemic. We present the results from a series of surveys conducted in four local authorities (LAs) in England, before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. Social workers and other social care staff (n  = 62) were asked about their experiences of psychological distress, using the twelve-item General Health Questionnaire. Overall, we found the proportion of staff reporting elevated levels of psychological distress increased and, in line with previous studies involving social workers, was high relative to the general population. Yet, most staff also said they had high levels of support from managers and colleagues, whilst a small proportion reported an increased perception of workplace support during the pandemic, compared to before. We consider these findings in relation to Organisational Support Theory and reflect on the ability of LAs to provide effective support for social care staff.

British Journal of Social Work ; 53(1):386-404, 2023.
Article in English | CINAHL | ID: covidwho-2241501


The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has put increased pressure on health and social service providers, including social workers who continued front line practice throughout the pandemic, engaging with some of the most vulnerable in society often experiencing multiple adversities alongside domestic violence and abuse (DVA). Movement restrictions and stay-at-home orders introduced to slow the spread of the virus, paradoxically leave these families at even greater risk from those within the home. Utilising a survey methodology combining both open- and closed-ended questions, this study captured a picture of social work practice in Ireland with families experiencing DVA during the early waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings highlight both the changes and challenges in work practices and procedures that limit social work assessment and quality contact with families, changes to the help-seeking behaviours from victims/survivors, as well as emerging innovative practice responses with enhanced use of technology. Implications for practice include an increased awareness of the risk and prevalence of DVA accelerated by the pandemic. Conclusions assert that social work assessment and intervention with families experiencing DVA must remain adaptive to the changing COVID-19 context and continue to develop innovative practice approaches.